Bladder cancer is often associated with recurrence and progression to invasive metastatic disease that have palliative therapeutic options. The use of traditional chemotherapeutic agents for bladder cancer management often suffers from toxicity and resistance concerns. This emphasizes the need for development of safer, natural, nontoxic compounds as chemotherapeutic/chemopreventive agents. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) is a natural compound that has been known to possess anticancer properties in various cancers, including bladder cancer. However, the biological targets of curcumin are not well defined. Recently, it has been proposed that curcumin may mediate epigenetic modulation of expression of microRNAs (miRNA). In this article, we define for the first time, that curcumin directly induces a tumor-suppressive miRNA, miR-203, in bladder cancer. miR-203 is frequently downregulated in bladder cancer due to DNA hypermethylation of its promoter. We studied the functional significance of miR-203 in bladder cancer cell lines and found that miR-203 has tumor suppressive properties. Also, we define Akt2 and Src as novel miR-203 targets in bladder cancer. Curcumin induces hypomethylation of the miR-203 promoter and subsequent upregulation of miR-203 expression. This leads to downregulation of miR-203 target genes Akt2 and Src that culminates in decreased proliferation and increased apoptosis of bladder cancer cells. This is the first report that shows a direct effect of curcumin on inducing epigenetic changes at a miRNA promoter with direct biological consequences. Our study suggests that curcumin may offer a therapeutic advantage in the clinical management of refractory bladder cancer over other standard treatment modalities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research